Chris Baker has prepared a translation of the revised Internal Security Act and has provided the following comments. Thanks very much Chris! (His comments on the previous version are here.) [UPDATE 23 October 2007: the link to the translation above is an updated translation kindly provided by Chris.]
- The Council of State has revised the Internal Security Act. The draft bill passed the Cabinet on 16 October and will soon be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly.
- The attached translation is incomplete (because I have not yet got the full Thai text) but probably has all the important stuff.
- This is not an amended version of the old bill but a completely different piece of legislation.
- Only a couple of the boilerplate clauses are the same. As a quick guide to the key points, read these Sections: 5, 14, 15, 17, 23.
- The drafting is a professional job, not the cut-and-paste botch-job of the previous draft.
- The Prime Minister and Cabinet are clearly placed in the position of authority under the Act.
- The earlier draft had a very wide definition of ‘internal security’ and a very long and threatening list of powers allotted to ISOC.
- This draft has a low-key and possibly sneakier approach.
- It does not define ‘internal security’ or a ‘threat to internal security’ at all. It simply sets out a procedure whereby ISOC can submit a plan to Cabinet for combating a threat to internal security, and be authorized to implement the plan. In other words, what constitutes a threat to internal security and merits invocation of this Act depends on the Cabinet’s decision on a proposal from ISOC, with no guidelines.
- The list of ISOC’s powers to combat any threat does not include detention or interference with the media.
- However the Act does include a blanket clause granting ISOC power “to have relevant government officials implement any action, or withhold the implementation of any action.”
- It also has a very strange clause granting ISOC power “to order persons to undertake or cease any action in connection with electronic equipment to guard against danger to life, limb, or property.”
- The amnesty clause (23) is still there.